The George Floyd protests against systemic racism have reignited an age-old debate about whether there is a place in society for symbols to the Confederate States of America.
In an attempt to examine both sides of the issue, The Root conducted an exclusive sit-down interview with two of the most heralded icons of the Confederacy — the beloved Confederate flag and Richmond, Va.’s statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
The Root: First, I’d like to thank you two for joining me today.
Robert E. Lee Monument: I’d like to thank you for inviting us.
Confederate Flag: Yes, Everyone has voiced their opinion on this issue but no one has even bothered to ask us what we think.
TR: Well, let’s start with you, Mr. Lee. As you know, 38-year-old Riley O’Shaughnessey, an officer with the police department at Richmond International Airport, was arrested on Saturday for posting up with a rifle to shoot anyone who tried to remove you.
Monument: Wait…He was trying to shoot protesters? Thank God! I thought he was trying to kill me! I thought people finally found out about me.
TR: Found out? Is there something you were hiding?
Monument: First of all, let’s be clear. I wasn’t hiding shit. I was just a piece of bronze until some people decided they wanted to make me into a statue. I was excited at first, because most of my homeboys have been melted down to make stupid shit, like baby shoes and coins. Growing up, my dream was to hang around the neck of a third-place Olympic finisher but, instead, they made me into the likeness of a racist loser. My cousin gets to hang out at LeBron James’ house while I have to represent a white supremacist loser.
Life is so unfair.
TR: But why do you say Robert E. Lee was a white supremacist?
Monument: Because he was a white supremacist.
I’m literally dumb as a rock and even I know this. He refused to emancipate his father-in-law’s slaves even though it was in his father-in-law’s will. He was cruel to the ones he kept and hunted down the ones who escaped.
And despite what revisionists might tell you about how the times were different back then and people didn’t consider slavery as evil, Lee once wrote a letter to his wife that said:
In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution, is a moral & political evil in any Country. It is useless to expatiate on its disadvantages. I think it, however, a greater evil to the white man than to the black race, & while my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more strong for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is known & ordered by a wise Merciful Providence
See, he knew it was wrong, and still did it, which is the definition of evil. But, having been in America for 10,283 years, no one knows white people better than me, so I know how they think. I don’t need Google for that.
Fuck Robert E. Lee and the horse he rode in on.
TR: But you’re talking about yourself.
Monument: Again, I’m not actually Robert E. Lee. I’m a statue of Robert E. Lee.
Flag: Preach, homey!
TR: Mr. Confederate Flag, you feel the same way?
Flag: Well, here’s something you might not know: I’m not actually a Confederate flag. I’m just a symbol of racism.
Flag: That’s right. The flag that you see everywhere to represent the Confederacy, never actually represented the Confederate States of America. Although some armies, including Northern Virginia’s Army, did fly a version that looked like me, it’s actually a design that was proposed by an editor for the Savannah Morning News.
That racist editor, William Tappan Thomas, suggested a flag against a white background to represent the people who were “fighting to maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race,” predicting that it would become known as the “white man’s flag.”
TR: So how did you get to be the symbol of the Confederacy?
Flag: Technically, they’re called the Daughters of Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy —a group of racist white women who didn’t like to wear Klan hoods because they messed up their hair. While their husbands, many of whom were Ku Klux Klan members, were out burning crosses, the DOC was lobbying textbook manufactures and educators to include the “lost cause” propaganda into the curriculum. Almost all of the Civil War revisionist history can be traced back to white women
Monument: Yeah, I hate those hoes.
TR: Wait…Don’t use that kind of language. And why do you hate them?
Monument: Well, they were the ones who started this whole Confederate statue shit as part of their lost cause propaganda. The Confederate Soldier and Sailors Monument that was torn down in Birmingham, Ala.? That was donated to the city by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The statue of Jefferson Davis down the street from me that protesters tore down a couple of days ago, that was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. They’ve funded more than 100 statues to celebrate white supremacists getting their asses kicked.
And that nigga Robert E. Lee definitely got his ass kicked.
TR: So why do you hate representing white supremacy, Mr. Flag?
Flag: Because my ancestors don’t deserve this. We built this country...For free!
TR: Wait, what?
Flag: Look bruh, I may look like a flag to you, but ultimately I’m just a piece of cotton fabric. I know the stain of slavery. Who do you think was out there in the fields with the enslaved Africans making America into a superpower? That was my people. We’ve always stood with them in solidarity. Especially black women!
Flag: Why do you think black women look so good in sundresses and white women look like they are smuggling lumber when they wear them? I could have been anything—a Beyoncé onesie, one of Serena Williams’ sock, Snoop Dogg’s T-shirt in Baby Boy, but nah…I gotta spend my time at Trump rallies and NASCAR races.
Please, for the love of God, ban Confederate flags, I’m tired of this bullshit! I’m ready to retire!
TR: And do what?
Flag: I was hoping I could’ve been hired on at my dream job—as an American flag. It’s the only thing white people love more than the Confederate flag. My cousin has a job doing it for the NFL and he loves it—except when Colin Kaepernick kneels.
TR: He feels disrespected?
Flag: Oh, hell no! I don’t know if you knew this, but flags don’t actually have feelings. He just hates to see white people crying because he knows they’re going to start wrapping themselves in the flag. White people love flags. The only thing white people love more than flags is disrespecting the ideas that flags actually represent.
TR: If you could say anything to the people who want to preserve images of the Confederacy, what would you tell them?
Flag: I’d ask them why they’re so proud of their racism and why they hate America much. After all, Confederates were essentially traitors who declared that they’d rather stop being Americans than live in a country where they couldn’t continue to rape, torture, kill and enslave black people.
TR: And you, Mr. Robert E. Lee statue?
Monument: I’d tell them to let it go. Why do y’all insist on holding on to an ass-kicking for so long? What is there to be proud of? The Confederacy lasted for five years. I’m 10,385 years old. If something lasting five years is worthy of a statue, then why isn’t there a monument to The Wire? Why can’t y’all make me into a statue of Omar Little?
Or maybe I can be a statue of Jesus? The Bible actually says that we were the same color! I’m gonna send in my resume as soon as they tear me down!
Or how about Brandon Stark? He overcame a severe physical disability to unite the Seven Kingdoms!
TR: Come on, man, Brandan Stark is a fictional character.
Flag: So is the idea of a non-racist Confederate.
Monument: ...Or America.
Flag: True story